Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Potato News

Scott Bird surveys the 2008 harvest--Putnam photo

IDAHO POTATO HARVEST WINDING DOWN

Pocatello--Dispite a late fall heatwave, Scott Bird will wrap up potato harvest by the end of the week. A record 84-degree day added to the clouds of dust and the heat slowed workers that are weary from 21 days of back-breaking work.

"Who would have thought we'd have this kind of heat?" said Bird. "We've been at it for three weeks and should have been done but we stopped for a few days because some of the spuds were still green."

But Scott Bird is upbeat and so are other producers, Jerry Wright of the the United Potato Growers of Idaho says the 2008 harvest is looking strong. "The long term outlook for this market is fantastic."

Growers planted 300 thousand acres of potatoes in Idaho this year, 12 and a half percent less than last year. Wright says first indications are that the overall yield will be down about five to ten percent.

Wright said the new market mantra is that less is more even if its just 10 sacks per acre. "Somewhere around 357 hundredweight sacks per acre to 367. That would be your combined Norkota and Russet Burbank and that’s lower by ten to 20 sacks versus what NASS reported last year. There will be no shortage of potatoes but there won't be an excess either as there has been in the past to hold markets down.”

He says Norkota potatoes coming off now are larger than the past several years with more 40 through 60 counts than the market wants but the Russet Burbank potatoes are smaller.

Scott Bird is harvesting fresh pack Norkotas from fields just outside of Chubbuck. While yields are down slightly in Blackfoot, size and quality are excellent. Bird is giddy with excitement, yet cautious until the bills are paid.

"Our inputs were through the roof this year, we're hoping for a good year but won't know for a while." Bird and the rest of his neighbors are all in the same boat yet Jerry Wright is optimistic "All in all we should have a pretty balanced crop if we run these things in tandem and do some really solid storage management and supply management.”

Monday, September 29, 2008

Counter Cyclical Program

Tuesday Marks Program Deadline

Washington--The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that the deadline to sign up for the 2008 Direct and Counter-cyclical program is Tuesday, Sept. 30.

Counter-cyclical payments provide support counter to the cycle of movement of market prices as part of a "safety net" in the event of low crop prices. Counter-cyclical payments for a commodity are only issued if the effective price for a commodity is below the target price for that particular commodity.

DCP payments are available for barley, corn, grain sorghum, oats, canola, crambe, flax, mustard, rapeseed, safflower, sesame and sunflower, peanuts, rice, soybeans, upland cotton, and wheat.
The 2008 program is similar to the 2007 program except for a provision that does not allow payments to be made on farms that have Commodity Program bases of less than 10 acres.
Payments are computed using base acreages for the Commodity Program crops and program yields established for each commodity on the farm. Eligible producers receive direct payments at rates established by law regardless of the market prices.

Contact your local FSA Office for more details before Tuesday.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dairy News

SEPTEMBER MILK PRODUCTION UP

Twin Falls--For the second straight month NASS monthly milk production reports reveal that Idaho ranks third in the nation in total milk production.

That report mirrors the August report that showed Idaho production at 1.09 billion pounds approximately 30 million pounds ahead of New York firmly securing Idaho as 3rd in US milk production both July and August. According to NASS Idaho dairy producers surpassed New York even though Idaho has 71,000 fewer milk cows than New York.

The NASS report pointed out that overall in the top 23 states milk production was up 1.57% from August of 2007 while cow numbers were 3,000 less than in July of 2008.

Meet an Idaho Farmer

video

STEVE RITTER VIDEO

WILLIAMSONS MIX FAMILY VALUES AND HARD WORK

Sunnyslope--Williamson Orchards & Vineyards is a family owned and operated business that strives to produce the highest quality product and providing honest &and knowledgable service to our clients. They feel its important to practice good business while serving as stewards to the land. They strive to use natural or near to organic growing meathods when ever possible.

In the early 1900's the Williamson's planted their first trees. As the family grew so did the business. Four generations of Williamson's have worked the farm. Today Williamson Orchards & Vineyards is run by the brothers Roger & John Williamson and their families.The original homestead of 80 acres has grown to over 700 acres of fruit and row crops. From the first planting of apples & cherries in 1921 they have added a wide variety of soft fruits and apples. In 1999 the Williamson's planted their first grape vineyards for a contract with a local winery. Since that time they've become wine makers.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Idaho Farm Bureau State Resolutions Meeting

video

Steve Ritter video

State Resolution Meeting Tackles Issues

Boise--This years Resolution meeting is debating more than 75 resolutions from five Farm Bureau Districts and 38 county organizations.

"The meetings are interesting," said Idaho Farm Bureau Federation Frank Priestley. "This is the backbone of what we do because these issues come up from those counties and to the districts and then here. These policies are discussed at least four times before it becomes policy; it undergoes a lot of discussion and scrutiny and many issues never make it past district.”

Farm Bureau Delegates at the Farm Bureau Convention in December will adopt some of the resolutions and they'll end up official policy of the Idaho Farm Bureau and some of those policies end up as legislation in front of Idaho Lawmakers.

Priestley says this grassroots way of developing policy is one of the few organizations that go through this long intense, bottoms-up process is what 'our founding fathers envisioned.'

"We have clout because our members write our policy, and we're not just grain growers or cattlemen or wheat growers we represent all agriculture and our policies have to go through a lot of fire,” added Priestley.

State Resolutions Committee Meets

Putnam photo
RESOLUTIONS MEETING IN FULL SWING
Boise--The Idaho Farm Bureau State Resolutions Meeting are discussing more than 70 county resolutions at their annual meeting this morning in Boise. Stay tuned for a full video report...

Just in from Washington

RITTER PHOTO
AMERICAN FARM BUREAU: Greenhouse Gas regulation wrong approach

WASHINGTON, D.C-–The American Farm Bureau Federation said today that regulating greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act is the wrong approach for agriculture. The AFBF said proposed regulations cause significant hardships to family farms.

If the rule were enacted, it would be the first time farms and farm buildings would be regulated under the Clean Air Act. An Agriculture Department study revealed that new regulations would impact small farms, including 25-head dairies, 50-head cattle beef operations, 200-head swine operations and 500-acre cornfields.

The Farm Bureau says many of the emissions associated with agriculture are natural processes for which there is no control technology or mechanism. “The net result is that the American economy, including agriculture, will suffer, with little or no benefit to be seen from clean air regulation,” read the statement.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Idaho Preferred Month

video

Treasure Valley Media Ag Tour

Caldwell--Eating food grown and raised in Idaho means more than just eating fresh, local, quality products, it also means you're supporting local farmers, ranchers and food processors. Idaho Preferred® is a program of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture dedicated to identifying and promoting Idaho food and agriculture products. Fresh fruits, vegetables and meats; fine wines and specialty foods; nursery plants, trees and hay cubes – all of these products make up the wide variety of products represented by the Idaho Preferred® program. To find local products just look for the blue and gold label at your local grocery store, farmers market, restaurant, or retail nursery and enjoy the finest products around – those grown and processed right here in Idaho. Leah Clark of Idaho Preferred gives us a home-grown tour of Idaho Foods.

Idaho Harvest

Ron Bitner--Ritter photo

An Interview with Ron Bitner of Bitner Vineyards
An Interview by Steve Ritter
Dr. Ron Bitner is a professional entomologist receiving his PhD in 1976 from Utah State University. Bitner Vineyards sells grapes to several of the Idaho wineries. In 1995 they began selling Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay grapes to Koenig Distillery and Winery. Greg Koenig has won much recognition and many awards for these wines.

Where is Idaho’s Wine Country:
Were out here in the Sunny slope area in SW Idaho along the Snake River, this is the winegrowing region of the state. I started putting my vineyards in, in 1981, they are some of the oldest ones out there. We are getting ready for our 24th harvest starting next week on the Chardonnay we are enjoying today; Beautiful time of year out here.

Idaho’s Wine Industry is world renowned but still flying under the radar in Idaho?

I’m amazing we do wine pouring in Boise and sometimes people still don’t realize what we have here in Idaho. We have some of the most beautiful vineyards on the NW, even in the country out here and people ask where we are located and I tell them out near Marsing they haven’t even heard of Marsing or how to get here, so my message is that you’re 45 minutes away from having a taste of Tuscany or southern Germany here, Australia. I’ve been to all of those places and we have the same view, the same quality of grapes. People need to come out and discover what they have here in Idaho.
Are people finding their way to the Wine Country?

We had a busload last week from Salt Lake, Utah has discovered us, we had a busload from Walla, Walla, they’ve discovered us; People here in Idaho need to know what we have next door and come and enjoy the fruits of our labors this year.

What’s all this talk about truffles?

I blame my friend Paul Beckman who took me to a truffles conference in Eugene, Oregon. I was introduced to a group over there who market hazel nuts that had black truffles spores on their roots, and so I have an acre planted out here just under 200 plants and in five years we hope to be one of the first orchards here in Idaho along with Paul harvesting the underground black truffle. They’re worth $15-hundred to $2-thousand dollars a pound right now, there’s a world wide shortage and we’re excited about it. It’s no different than planting a cabernet and having a glass of red wine five years later that’s how long it takes a red wine to come on through so in five years we will have truffles to go along with our wines and cheeses and breads that we make locally out here in the Sunnyslope area.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Home Grown Energy

video

STEVE RITTER VIDEO

HISTORIC DAY FOR HOMEGROWN ENERGY

Nampa--Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley and Dr. Bill Rogers of the Idaho National Laboratory sign an historic Memorandum that will focus home grown energy research on Idaho farms.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cattle coming in from the summer range near Malad, Idaho

Cattle coming in from the summer range near Malad, Idaho, originally uploaded by Jake Putnam.

Its first sure sign of fall, across Southern Idaho, ranchers like Austin Tubbs are driving their cattle home from the summer range. This photo was taken outside of Malad, Idaho.

Salmon Recovery

Bob Smathers photo

Lower Granite Dam Toured

by Bob Smathers

Lower Granite Dam--The Port Commissioners and a few others from Lewiston and Clarkston toured the Lower Granite Dam and the big topic of discussion was salmon recovery and a nenewed interest in the removable spillway weir or RSW.

A removable spillway weir is a dam passage improvement that allows migrating salmon to enter a dam’s spillway close to the surface of the water and exit by way of a gradually slowing discharge chute. This process does not subject the salmon to the potentially fatal high pressures, rapid pressure changes and high velocities they typically face when they have to dive 50 feet or more beneath the surface of the water to reach conventional dam passage entrances like the spillways. The RSW is removable as it can be lowered during high flood events.

The RSW was installed at Lower Granite Dam in 2001 and research has shown that the salmon smolt survival rate over the dam is 98 to 99 percent via the RSW as opposed to 93 percent when the fish go over the standard spillways. Also, the fish naturally look for a gentle way to get over the dam, so they will spend unusual lengths of time behind a dam without an RSW where they are susceptible to predation. This further reduces the survival rate from 93% to 85% over each dam. The RSW solves this problem with its’ gentle current. The fish spend less time behind the dam because they naturally swim with this gentle which funnels them into the weir. It is quite amazing and is estimated that 90 percent of the smolts that arrive at Lower Granite Dam go over the removable spillway weir.

The removable spillway weirs also save water over conventional spillways because they use only one seventh of the amount of water as standard spillways (see photo). So far, Ice Harbor and Lower Granite Dams have these RSW’s and there are plans to install them on the other two Snake River dams in the next two years and hopefully the Columbia River Dams in subsequent years. This new technology will substantially increase the number of smolts that migrate through the Columbia and Snake River System. The Army Corps of Engineers will continue to transport fish on barges, but at a reduced rate, say 5 million smolts per year.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Idaho Harvest 2008

video

Steve Ritter video

Wilder--Idaho farmers are in the thick of harvest season, rain over the weekend had slowed operations and have been a mixed blessing. Hay growers are trying to get the last cut in, the rain could cut into yields. The rain has not hampered Derek Vermeer's pumpkin operation in Wilder, Idaho.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

LATAH COUNTY FAIR

Bob Smathers and Sarah Baker of the Idaho Beef Council present rancher Brad Freeman a check for winning the Latah County BBQ Cookoff.

FARM BUREAU-BEEF COUNCIL BBQ COOKOFF

BY BOB SMATHERS
Moscow--One of the most serious competitions at the Latah County fair is the annual barbeque event that was held last week at the fair in Moscow. The event was sponsored by the Latah County Fair, Idaho Farm Bureau, and the Idaho Beef Council and featured 8 contestants who were given the same cuts of beef (loin) and allowed to cook them using the method of their choice. Five judges rated each for taste, moisture, texture, etc. When the smoke cleared, small samples were sold for $3 per plate to the public and they voted for their own choices. The competition was so close and heated that the “people’s choice” winner was the sixth place “judges’ award” winner.
JUDGES:
The five judges included Vera White (local newspaper columnist), Randy Rausch (Latah County Sherriff), Randy Byers (Bull Country Radio 99.5 FM), Markita Brammer (University of Idaho Collegiate Farm Bureau President), and Sarah Baker (Idaho Beef Council).
WINNERS:
Judges’ award winners were: 1. Brad Freeman, Montana ($500); 2. Tracy Stevens, Moscow ($250), 3. Mel Gray, Moscow ($100); 4. Michael Snyder, Moscow ($75); 5. Mike Gregory, Moscow ($50); 6. George Swanger, Troy ($25); People’s choice winner: 6. George Swanger.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friend of Agriculture Award

Idaho Delegation Awarded Friend of Agriculture Award

POCATELLO – Idaho’s entire congressional delegation earned the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Friend of Agriculture Award for their work during the 110th Congress.

Idaho Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo, and Representatives Mike Simpson and Bill Sali, will receive their awards during separate ceremonies in the coming weeks.
Senator Mike Crapo, photo by Rich Iwasaki
“We are proud to have the opportunity to work with a congressional delegation that understands and supports agriculture,” said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley. “Our senators and representatives are always willing to meet with us and listen to our concerns. They make themselves available to speak with Idaho farmers and ranchers and they truly care about the challenges we face in the production of food and fiber for this country.”

It’s rare for a state’s entire delegation to receive the award, Priestley added.

The Friend of Agriculture Award given to those individuals who have supported Farm Bureau issues, as shown by their voting records, and who were nominated by their respective state Farm Bureau and approved by the Board of Directors of the American Farm Bureau Federation. The voting records were based on priority issues selected by the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

From Washington

House Passes Energy Legislation

Washington--The House of Representatives passed comprehensive energy legislation by a 236-189 vote. The legislation will expand offshore drilling, repeal oil industry tax and royalty incentives, extend renewable energy and energy efficiency tax credits and seek to boost renewable energy use though a renewable electricity standard.

This is good news for the Idaho National Lab and the Idaho Farm Bureau. The two entities just signed an agreement this week looking into renewable fuel crop research at the Lab near Arco. "Renewable energy is not going away," said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley. "We hope these incentives will help kickstart homegrown energy in Idaho."

Although the American Farm Bureau Federation thinks the bill could have been strengthened the development of conventional fuels, like oil and natural gas, they supported passage of the legislation to move the process along. The Senate continues to develop a comprehensive and will vote on their energy bill before the election.

District News

Photo courtesy of Ray Poe: (Left to right Frank Priestley, Robert Blair, silver medalists, Del Rust and John Ferris, gold.)

Horseshoes, Politics and Resolutions
By Ray Poe
Moscow--After a hard day at the District V Resolutions meeting in Moscow, the University of Idaho Collegiate YF&R and the Collegiate FFA invited county leaders to their annual picnic. The picnic and horseshoe tournament is a social event that's been going on for about 5 years. About 30 college students and the ‘older folks’ threw the iron for about an hour. When the dust cleared the pits Del Rust and John Ferris (right) won the gold medal (shoe) followed closely by (on the left) Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley and Kendrick's Robert Blair.

COUNTY NEWS

Bob Smathers photo

FRIEND OF AGRICULTURE

Riggins--The Idaho County Farm Bureau President Betty DeVeny presents State Representative Paul Shepherd with a “Friend of Ag. Award”. Idaho Farm Bureau grants these awards to Idaho legislators who’s voting record is supportive of agriculture and other natural resource related industries.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Federal Reserve


Federal Reserve, Jake Putnam photo

FEDS LEAVE INTEREST RATES ALONE

Washington--Federal Reserve Board kept their lending rates unchanged at 2 percent on Tuesday, highlighting the pressures of nagging inflation.

The decision was a disappointment to investors, but Wall Street analysts said it's the Fed's goal to separate basic monetary policy from the credit crisis and other cash problems on Wall Street.

With high input costs, farmers will head to their banks this fall for production loans, low interest rates would have been welcome relief at a time when margins are razor thin.

Clean Air Act

The Environmental Protection Agency on Constitution Street, Washington--Putnam photo

AFBF: EPA Lacks Legal Authority in Dust Case

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 15, 2008 - The American Farm Bureau Federation today told a circuit court of appeals that the Environmental Protection Agency does not have the legal authority to regulate agricultural dust under the Clean Air Act. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral argument from AFBF and other parties both challenging and defending the EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter in American Farm Bureau Federation et. al v. EPA.

Today’s proceedings are the final stage of a two-year legal battle over whether EPA’s NAAQS violated the Clean Air Act. AFBF argued that EPA’s own studies did not show that agricultural dust caused the adverse health effects that trigger Clean Air Act regulation.

Further, said AFBF General Counsel Julie Anna Potts, “The Clean Air Act does not require agricultural dust to be regulated by the same standard as urban particulate matter. Congress requires EPA to support its NAAQS with science and thus far they have not met that burden for agricultural dust,” said Potts.

The American Farm Bureau, the National Pork Producers Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association had 15 minutes today at the proceedings to provide additional argument and answer the panel’s questions.

AFBF initiated the case in 2006 because regulation of agricultural dust would place a burden on producers and the importance of ensuring that stringent Clean Air Act requirements are lawfully enacted.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Energy crops like miscantus and other agrofuels will be researched at the INL
INL, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation Sign Energy Research Agreement

NAMPA--Idaho National Laboratory and the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation today signed a memorandum of understanding establishing cooperation on advanced energy technologies needed by the agriculture industry in Idaho.

INL Associate Laboratory Director for Energy and Environment J.W. “Bill” Rogers Jr. said, “INL is dedicated to research and development of technologies that will advance Idaho’s agricultural industry and renewable energy production capabilities for the nation.”

INL has served as the lead laboratory in designing the feedstock road map for developing technologies to harvest, collect, preprocess, store and transport agricultural, forestry and dedicated energy crop materials.

“Although Idaho was not blessed with abundant fossil energy such as oil, coal or natural gas, we still have the potential to become a major producer of energy,” said Frank Priestley, president of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation.

“As technologies continue to develop, farmers and researchers are beginning to work together to prove that dedicated energy crops, waste materials and forestry residues can be an important addition to the Idaho economy and environment.”

The MOU includes testing of varied grasses such as switch, prairie, sudan, the native Idaho basin wild rye and miscanthus as dedicated energy crops. It also includes the harvesting, collection and preparation of cellulosic and other feedstocks for biofuels processing and conversion into fuels, chemicals and energy.The testing and R&D effort are not intended to reduce the amount of land already devoted to food and feed crops. The MOU agrees to collaboration for an initial five years through December 2013, as field experiments take two or three years for proper data collection in test plots.

Idaho National Laboratory is one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 10 multiprogram national laboratories. The laboratory performs work in each of the strategic goal areas of DOE n energy, national security, science and environment. More specifically, INL is the nation’s leading center of nuclear energy research and development. Day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory is the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance.

The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation is the largest general farm organization in Idaho with over 63,000 member families and is affiliated with the American Farm Bureau Federation, representing over five million member families nationwide. IFBF was organized to protect and support the interests of agriculture and is the parent company of Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Idaho.

2008 Harvest

Jake Putnam Photo

HARVEST OUTLOOK

Boise--A dry August is helping Idaho Farmers with harvest preparations across Southern Idaho. But the same dry spell is impacting Midwestern soybeans and late-developing corn, despite a lack of heat stress. August rainfall totals were way below normal and by month's end, 20 to 30 percent of both corn and soybeans were rated in poor condition in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

In Indiana, Iowa, and Kentucky, 10 to 20 percent of both crops were rated poor the first week of September. But the south reports abundant rainfall with the hurricanes and significant crop damage in the storm paths in some places an astonishing foot and a half of rain fell from the lower Mississippi Valley to Florida. Soybeans, rice, and open-boll cotton were among the crops vulnerable to the storms.

In the west late rains helped crops in August and improved soil moisture in preparation for winter wheat planting. Too much rain was reported on the southern Plains.

California reports mostly dry weather, which is normal for September. In the Great Basin occasional showers have teased farmers starting the harvest season there. Showers didn't greatly affect north Idaho grain farmers but yields are low.

In Eastern Oregon and Washington moisture from Pacific Tropical Storm Julio contributed to late August showers in the Southwest. Near-to slightly below-normal August temperatures have blanketed the Northwest and areas from the Rockies to the East Coast. As a result, the Midwest escaped the growing season with little or no heat stress, in spite of a mini August drought.

The two hurricanes that pounded the central Gulf Coast the past two weeks have affected sugar crops in Louisiana with sustained winds near of 110 m.p.h., crop damage is expected to be moderate to heavy with President George W. Bush declaring disaster areas throughout Louisiana.

The Federal Reserve Bank, Washington

FEDS LOOKING TO CUT PRIME INTEREST RATES
WASHINGTON - With wild financial markets and a global credit crisis claiming institution after instituion, suddenly the talk of reducing interest rates by the Federal Reserve is back on table.

Economists are split on if the nations central bank will actually cut the prime interest rate when officials meet today at the Federal Reserve.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 504 points yesterday in the steepest slide since 911.

President Bush's Morning

Washington--Early in the morning the White House is a buzz, getting ready for the official state visit of the President from the African Nation of Ghana.

At the Technology conference we learned about streaming video and websites, lighting interviews, video production. Its a chore keeping up with all the changes...and it has to be done.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Capitol on the Hill


Capitol on the hill, by Jake Putnam

The Farm Bureau's Jake Putnam is attending the American Farm Bureau Technology Conference in Washington. The Farm Bureau is committed to learning about new outreach technologies and applying them to their Web, Video and Social Networking enterprises.

Energy News

FEDS AND FARMERS TO SIGN HISTORIC ENERGY MEMORANDUMSEPTEMBER 16TH

Nampa--With skyrocketing fuel prices farmers long for the day when they can produce cheap, home grown energy, keeping billions of fuel dollars home instead of overseas.

The Memo Establishes an agreement for cooperation and coordination on advanced fuel technologies and agrees to work with farmers on energy research needed to advance the energy and agriculture industry in Idaho. The agreement also focuses efforts on renewable energy production capabilities that will help both Idaho and the Nation.

Schedule of Events:

Who: Idaho Farm Bureau, Idaho National Laboratory.
When: September 16th, 3:00pm
Where: Stinker Station 3319 Garrity Blvd., Nampa, Idaho
Media Contacts, Keith Arterburn, INL 208-351-2999, Jake Putnam 208-631-1500

Friday, September 12, 2008

PRESIDENT FRANK PRIESTLEY'S EDITORIAL

Putnam photo
Labeling Legislation Comes to Fruition
by Frank Priestley

Franklin--Although it took six years, American agriculture has reason to celebrate this month as federal regulators are putting finishing touches on a law requiring food to be labeled by its country of origin.

Country of Origin Labeling or COOL as it has come to be known was approved by Congress with the 2002 Farm Bill. It’s producer-driven legislation that lets consumers know where their food comes from. Although it seems like a fairly simple, straightforward and courteous benefit, it took a lot of political haggling to finally make it happen.

COOL requires labeling of fresh beef, pork, lamb, chicken, fish, shellfish, peanuts, fruits, vegetables, macadamia nuts, pecans and ginseng. It does not include processed foods like corned beef or chicken tenders, or food sold through foodservice companies to restaurants, hospitals, schools and other institutions. The law goes into effect on September 30.

When we think about all the products we come in contact with on a daily basis that are labeled, the question of why it took six years to get a food labeling bill implemented seems like an elephant in the parlor. The answer is COOL met a political firestorm that gripped American agriculture by it’s jugular pitting farmer against rancher, processor against packer and various state and national commodity organizations that normally work together against one another.

To further explain, putting a “Grown in USA” label on a bundle of asparagus or a bag of carrots really isn’t that big of a deal from the grower’s or packer’s perspective. Most of the time fruit and vegetables are washed and packaged within a few miles of, or at the farm where grown. However, when you compare that to a facility like Miller’s Blue Ribbon Beef in Hyrum, Utah, processing several thousand head of cattle from two different countries nearly every day, the logistical and management issues escalate exponentially. One 1,200 pound market steer normally gets cut into roughly 100 packages of beef. Chicken, pork, lamb and fish processing businesses all face a similar burden in complying with COOL. As you can see, the meat processing industry faces big challenges in dealing with COOL and their resistance was formidable.

However, in the end, we were able to come up with a compromise that we believe will increase demand for our products and benefit consumers, farmers, ranchers and American agriculture across the board. We have dozens of solid examples of meat and produce labeling such as Idaho Potatoes and Washington Apples that fetch a premium price in the market because of their superior quality. But without the label to inform the consumer there would be no distinction.

To most of us, it probably doesn’t make that much difference whether the couch we are sitting on was made in Indonesia or our televisions in Japan. But whether we realize it or not, we share a much more intimate relationship with our food. It sustains us and we deserve to know where it comes from.

The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation sends out congratulations and a heart felt thank you to all of the organizations, business owners, political leaders and farmers and ranchers who had the foresight, cooperation and determination to bring COOL to fruition.

Potato News


SPUD ACREAGE DOWN, PRELIM REPORT SAYS

Washington--According to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service the 2008 potato crop is estimated at 929,100 acres, down 8 percent from last year and 7 percent below 2006. The decrease in planted acreage is due to higher prices from wheat and corn.

Idaho growers decreased planted acreage 14 percent from last year. Fresh pack growers were encouraged to decrease their 2008 planted acres by 20 percent from their 2004 base acres. The July 6 crop progress in Idaho was ahead of the 5-year average and crop conditions were 86 percent good to excellent.

Washington producers planted 6 percent fewer acres than a year ago.Cool, wet conditions delayed planting in the northwest section of the State with Skagit County only having 80 percent of the crop planted by the end of June. Oregon growers decreased acreage 3 percent from last year and the crop was 1 to 2 weeks behind normal. Planted acres in Colorado dropped 4 percent.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Just in From Washington

Bob Stallman's Editorial from Washington

Washington--Farm Bureau Pulls All-Out Offensive on Critical Feed. One must always be prepared to take quick and decisive action. This tactic not only applies to the battlefields of war, it also holds true when dealing with the U.S. court system.

Case and example: This past July, a suit filed to challenge the Agriculture Department’s critical feed use (CFU) program would have been disastrous for farmers and ranchers if Farm Bureau had not formed an immediate line of attack.

Most Ricky-Tick
When the use of Conservation Reserve Program acreage as a critical feed source was attacked by the National Wildlife Federation in a U.S. district court, it was an assault on every farmer and rancher in America. The suit, which claimed that USDA failed to comply with federal rules, immediately halted the CFU program that gives farmers and ranchers permission for a special, one-time hay and forage use of certain CRP acreage.

The American Farm Bureau took immediate action, with the help of several other national industry groups, and the stalwart support of state Farm Bureaus around the country. AFBF led the charge by filing court briefs and declarations from farmers and ranchers across the nation about the investments they made to take part in the program.

For example, Travis Belcher, a New Mexico Farm Bureau member, relying on the CFU initiative, had agreed to lease 1,000 acres of CRP land in New Mexico and 320 acres of CRP land in Texas. To stock this acreage, Travis took out a $55,000 loan. He paid an additional $6,000 to purchase water, fencing, feed, medicine and trucking. If the court would have issued an injunction against the CFU initiative, Travis would have faced the prospect of defaulting on his loan and declaring bankruptcy.

It is because of the fast action taken by state Farm Bureaus to pull their farmers out of the fields and have them compile their personal stories for the court, that we were able to have a quick turnaround in providing the judge with our argument in only three days.

After-Action Report

Although we did not get a full return to the CFU program, Farm Bureau did achieve a compromise. While it’s not perfect, considering the boondoggle that might have occurred had we not interjected the producer’s voice, it’s definitely a big improvement.

We have subsequently spoken out in favor of legislation to fully implement the program and USDA has taken action to open CRP acres to producers willing to pay a fee in some areas hit by flooding or drought.

It was critical that Farm Bureau took action with the lawsuit not only because of the immediate impact on hundreds of thousands of farmers like Travis, but because of the trend playing out in U.S. western courts to automatically stop any federal program when a group files suit.
It’s imperative that courts realize they can’t just stop federal programs when farmers and ranchers have already made management decisions and monetary investments in compliance with the rules of the program. Enrolled in the CFU program or not, court decisions like these have a significant impact on all producers and their rights as property owners.

Farmers and ranchers can rely on Farm Bureau to be on the front line when it comes to litigation impacting U.S. agriculture. With the support of our members, the American Farm Bureau has significant resources to fight legal battles that go on for years, or a skirmish that lasts three days.

In Memory

Photo courtesy of NYPD

REMEMBERING 911

New York--On September 11 2001 Islamic extremists conducted a series of coordinated suicide attacks on the United States.

On 9-11-01 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners in the early morning hours. Once airborn, the terrorists crashed two of the planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

The attack killed everyone on board and thousands of men and women working in the buildings both of which collapses within two hours. Two other buildings were destroyed at ground zero and dozens of others damaged.

The al-Qaeda terrorists crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon. The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after its passengers and flight crew tried to retake control of the plane, which the hijackers had redirected toward Washington, D.C. There were no known survivors from any of the flights.

The attacks killed 2,974 people. Another 24 are still missing and presumed dead. Almost all the casualties were civilians including people from 90 different countries.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Idaho Senator Larry Craig Addresses Farm Labor Concerns

Putnam photo

FARM LABOR LEGISLATION IN CONGRESS


Washington-As harvest approaches Idaho farmers have more than high fuel costs nagging them, they say crackdowns on immigrant labor have caused a widespread labor shortage that threatens this year's harvest.

Agriculture relies heavily on an unstable labor force, and with few or no alternatives, this constitutes a national crisis just as farmers are heading to the fields, the instability in the farm work force last year led to crops rotting in the field.

A bipartisan group of Congressmen wants legislation that would ease the labor problem and they’ve crafted the Emergency Agriculture Relief Act. The proposed legislation is sponsored by Idaho Senator Larry Craig and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (R-California).

The bill provides temporary limited immigration status to experienced farm workers who continue to work in American agriculture for the next five years.This emergency agricultural program would be capped at 1.35 million workers. Eligibility would be limited to those who can prove agricultural employment for at least 150 days or 863 hours or who have earned at least $7,000 working in U.S. agriculture during the past 48 months. Emergency workers would have to work at least 100 days per year in agriculture for the next five years.

The bill requires payment of a fine, a background check, provides no green card, no path to permanent legal residence status, and no path to citizenship. This bill helps slow high food prices and more importantly keeps expensive foreign imports from taking over the marketplace.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wheat Harvest

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The Idaho Wheat Harvest is a mixed bag in 2008 with dryland areas suffering bigger yield losses than the irrigated areas, but a statewide frost and hail took their toll as well. The change from a cold, wet spring to blazing, hot summer barely took a week and caught many fields at the flowering state, their most vulernable time.

Wheat in the American Falls area looked good all season but frost, winds and high temps cut into yields even on irrigated land.

In north Idaho a frost on July 10 combined with a dry summer has hurt yields and quality in some areas. Yields there are down to half of normal.

Idaho Agricultural Statistics Service says they have seen a statewide barley yield of 80 bu. per acre, which is a good average.

2008 Idaho Wheat Harvet

Amber waves of grain, Blair Farms Kendrick, Ritter photo

A TALE OF TWO HARVESTS

Terry Jones, Farmer Emmett

How did the wheat harvest go this year?

“There's a couple of issues that went on with our wheat crop. First of all we got in on time, farming is all about timing if you can’t hit those windows of opportunity as those 12 months go-on you can hamper your yields. We got in on time we got it irrigated on time. Thank you god! Thank you god for giving us a good water year; because this year our irrigation company let us have just about all the water we needed. We’ve really been able to pour the water on the crops and we had an excellent crop year."

Yields this year were all over the map depending on where you live, what did you see in Gem County?

“My yields which run just about a hundred bushels to the acre on some of this marginal soil pushed an amazing 115 bushels to the acre so I’m a happy camper right now.”
Up North, The Farm Bureau's Steve Ritter spent the day at Blair Farms--
Robert Blair, Farmer Kendrick, Idaho

How was your season?

“This year harvest is down about 30-50-percent depending on where you farm between Potlatch and Grangeville. Right here I should be cutting about 120 bushels of wheat and we are averaging between 85 and 90 bushel, we had rainfall we are in a 25 inch rainfall circle right here, this year we had 10 and half inches before we started getting rain at harvest in August. In August we had 1/1/2 inches, now its leading to sprout and other quality issues that we will get docked on. The last beneficial rain we received was June 11th here and it was not enough to carry us through to sustain both winter grains and spring grains and legumes.

Not a typical growing season?

“No, right we farm in a 25 inch rainfall zone and we were off quite a bit this year, we usually have a 125 bushels an acre, we're off 30-percent on my farm, some of the neighbors have been cutting 40 and 50 bushel and hoping to average about 60 bushels. So when you start budgeting and prices have gone down, its going to be another tough year for farmers, despite good market prices up here. Inputs have gone up especially fuel and fertilizer, its going to be a tough year."

Monday, September 8, 2008

DAIRY NEWS

Manure is Used on Vermeer Hay Operations, Derek Vermeer looks on--Putnam photo
DAIRY FARMERS USING HOME-GROWN GOLD TO CUT EXPENSES

Wilder-- With energy prices driving the cost of fuel and fertilizer through the roof, old fashioned cow manure has gone from costly by-product to a badly needed revenue source.

"Calls to Extension offices from people looking for manure and manure compost have increased in recent months," says Tommy Bass, Montana State University Extension livestock environment associate specialist.

Vermeer Farms in Wilder uses all of their dairy manure on its feed crop operations and in 2008 they're saving thousands of dollars a month in fertilizer costs.

"We work together with the manure management, I buy the fertilizer for the feed crops and sell it back to the dairy, My brothers dairy operations makes a buck and I save money on my fertilizer bill, it all works out.” says Derek Vermeer.

Montana State Scientists say that this shift in farming practices is not only good for water quality and the the environment, it makes money. "As manure gains value, it is likely to be used more efficiently and effectively. There's a potential for increased revenue for animal feeding operations," Bass said.

“It's one of the best things we have to help me hold down my expenses. I take manure off the dairy, just the organic matter, the nitrogen the put it on the fields. It helps me cut down on fertilizer. It's no secret that fertilizer keeps going up and up, that’s a constant I've always had. I have my own spreader trucks with enough work to keep them spreading all winter long," added Vermeer.

Although extension and conservation professionals have taught for years that manure can be a valuable asset, some operators wrote it off as a difficult-to-manage byproduct with too many difficult rules and regulations. Many paid tens of thousands to haul it off. But with fertilizer prices hovering at $1,000 per ton, the nitrogen and other nutrients in manure are golden.

Scientists say that a ton of manure contains $30 to $40 worth of nutrients for the soil. "Freshly scraped and stacked dairy and beef manure can have a total nitrogen content ranging between 12 and 25 pounds of nitrogen per ton of manure, while the same ton may also have 9 to 18 pounds of phosphorus fertilizer equivalent," said Bass.

Nitrogen and phosphorus are other valuable nutrients in manure.Potassium and a variety of micro-nutrients are also present in cow manure.In addition to specific nutrients, the high organic content of manure and manure compost improves soil quality, and its improved texture improves its water and nutrient holding capacity.

“We're just trying to keep our debt down, that’s just the nature of the dairy business, but the last couple of years have been pretty good,” said Mike Vermeer.

Meet an Idaho Farmer

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Steve Ritter video

Robert Blair not only farms with wife Rhonda near Kendrick, Idaho. He's pioneering all aspects of precision agriculture.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Meet an Idaho Farmer

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Rhonda Blair works side by side with husband Robert Blair on their farm outside of Kendrick, Idaho. The Blairs are raising their two sons on the farm and are active in Farm Bureau and the community.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Murphy Complex Fire Report

Ritter Photo

Agencies to Study Grazing as Firefighting Tool According to New Report
By Jake Putnam

Boise--Cattle grazing on the Jarbidge range in South Central Idaho helped keep fuel levels down but the Murphy Complex fire of 2007 would have destroyed everything in its path under current management practices. That’s the word according to a new report just released from the Bureau of Land Management and an assessment team of stakeholders and government agencies.

The firestorm’s extreme temperatures, fuel load and wind led to unstoppable conditions. But the report clearly found that targeted grazing could result in "less intense" conditions, according to the report and should be used as another fire management tool.

On July 16 and 17th last year a series lightning strikes touched off range fires near the Idaho-Nevada border southwest of Twin Falls, Idaho. The Rowland and Elk Mountain exploded with alarming intensity and grew together and was named the Murphy Wildland Fire Complex. Some of the fires in this complex burned unchecked for two weeks before it was fully contained on August 2, 2007. Despite a concentrated fight by BLM fire crews more than 652,016 acres went up in smoke.

Vast stretches of range, including stands of sagebrush exploded in flames, Some flame lengths on the range reached two stories high with intense heat in the stands of sage. Firefighting in the sage areas was extremely dangerous.

“I realize that crown fires occur in sagebrush stands just like they do in timber stands especially under extreme conditions. Simple logic and peer reviewed science tells us that when more fuel is present fires burn more intense. The report recognizes that as sagebrush canopy decreases fire intensity decreases parallel to the supply of fine fuels,” said Wally Butler, Rangeland Specialist for the Idaho Farm Bureau.

The BLM stressed that the range policy won’t change overnight, they’re simply looking at controlling fuel load and grazing is just another tool to achieve that. The agency says they’re charged with protecting habitat and that won’t change.

“Proper grazing use coupled with areas of targeted grazing to manage fuel loads can serve to protect key areas of wildlife habitat. Grazing can provide the mosaic of habitats and manage fuel loads to minimize the impact of wildfire. No one has ever said that grazing will stop naturally occurring fire but can certainly make those fires more manageable,” added Butler.

BLM will use the study as a starting point for more research; the agencies will start gathering all the data they can possibly glean from the fire they can to use on new grazing models. When that’s done they’ll use that data to construct a pilot project to test the grazing impacts and other fuel load measures before implementing a plan.

MANAGEMENT RECOMMENDATIONS:

The report recommends that a team of specialists and scientists create one or more carefully planned, targeted, and intensively monitored pilot projects large enough to evaluate management opportunities and ecological implications.

A general technical guide should be developed based on existing research and field examples of how livestock grazing influenced fire extent, severity, and intensity. The report would be a platform for creating the pilot projects and other targeted grazing opportunities, considering possible changes to existing grazing plans, and evaluating the effects of grazing on recent and future wildfires.

The Assessment Team recommends continued research and monitoring of the ecosystem effects of the Murphy Complex wildfires to gain additional insight for future management decisions in this ecosystem and others like it.



Friday, September 5, 2008

Taste of Idaho

Grapes by Maria José Almeida

FOURTH ANNUAL TASTE OF IDAHO TO BE HELD IN BOISE
State’s Largest Idaho Food and Wine Fest Scheduled for Saturday

BOISE-–Fresh peaches, pears, pluots and grapes; flavorful huckleberry jams and syrups, Idaho beef, elk and lamb; fresh-baked breads, ice-wine, chardonnays and microbrews are just a few of the unique local flavors to be enjoyed at the fourth annual Taste of Idaho on Saturday, Sept. 6, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Qwest Arena in Boise.

One of Idaho’s premier culinary events, Taste of Idaho features the state’s best food, wine and beer, along with an exciting chef competition, cooking demonstrations, and recipe sharing. Admission is $5 for food sampling and $5 for a wine or beer sampling glass. Children under 12 are free. Tickets are available at the door.

While sampling a delicious array of local foods, festival goers can watch eight local chefs vie for cash prizes in the first-ever Taste of Idaho Chef’s Competition. The eight competing chefs and their respective restaurants are: Dustan Bristol of Brick 29 Bistro, Jared Couch of SixOneSix, Andrew Catt of Rudy’s, Dana Brenchley of Highlands Hollow,
Chris Hain of the Grove Hotel, Scott Mason of Ketchum Grill, Gary Kucy of Morels at Tamarack and Chris McDonald of the Arid Club.
From 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the chefs will take part in an Iron Chef-style culinary competition featuring Idaho beef, lamb, trout, pork, potatoes, fresh fruits and vegetables and more. Each chef will be teamed up with a local winery and pair their all-Idaho dishes with great local wines.

On stage two, youth from 4-H clubs and the Young Chef’s Academy will be demonstrating the preparation of winning recipes from Idaho Magazine’s 2008 Idaho Preferred® recipe contest.

The 2008 Farm Bill

Senator Mike Crapo, photo by Rich Iwasaki

FARM BILL MEETINGS SET THIS MONTH

Washington– Idahoans with questions about the 2008 Farm Bill enacted this spring by Congress can get answers at nine informational meetings planned around Idaho and sponsored by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo. Crapo’s staff will be joined by representatives from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agencies, including the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rural Development.

“These Farm Bill meetings are meant to provide information about the many programs in the 2008 Farm Bill, the status of the programs that USDA is working to implement and available sign-up deadlines and details,” said Crapo, a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.
We're hoping to get a good cross section of our farmers out to the meetings," said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley. "We have worked literally for years on the legislation and we need farmer input."

“Beyond traditional farm support, the comprehensive Farm Bill includes a wide range of conservation, rural development, beginning farmers and ranchers, specialty crop competitiveness, organic production and renewable energy incentives. There are also programs to assist with market access, address the impacts of disaster and much more. There have been many changes and additions to past Farm Bill programs, and I want to make sure that Idahoans have the information they need to truly make this important legislation helpful and accessible on the ground," Crapo added.

The 2008 Farm Bill resource and information meetings are planned at the following locations:

Wednesday, September 17th:
Rexburg 8:00 – 10:30 a.m. City Council Chambers, 12 North Center Street
Blackfoot 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. Bingham County Courthouse, 501 North Maple Street
Burley 7:00 – 9:30 p.m. City Offices, 1401 Overland Street

Thursday, September 18th:
Jerome 9:00 – 11:30 a.m. City Council Chambers, 100 East Avenue A
Caldwell 3:00 – 5:30 p.m. Caldwell Public Library, 1010 Dearborn Street

Tuesday, September 23rd:
Sandpoint 8:00 – 10:30 a.m. Intermountain Community Bank, 414 Church Street
Plummer 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. Community Center, 520 C Street
Genesee 7:00 – 9:30 p.m. PNW Growers Offices, 117 West Chestnut Street

Wednesday, September 24th
Nezperce 9:00 – 11:30 a.m. Nezperce Hotel and Café, 312 Oak Street

Thursday, September 4, 2008

BIRD VIRUS FOUND IN SW IDAHO

Bird flu virus--photo by Ibuzzo

Low Pathogenic Bird Flu Found on Gamebird Farm Near Boise

Boise—The Idaho Department of Agriculture inspectors has quarantined a game bird operation near Payette after a pheasant there tested positive for a low-pathogenic bird flu.

The Department of Agriculture released a statement saying the type of virus found in the Idaho game bird is commonly found in wild birds and causes minor illness in the animals. The statement said the virus poses no risk to humans and no one has come down with related illnesses in connection with the sick bird.

Department of Ag inspectors continue to investigate the source of the illness and have notified neighboring game bird and poultry farms.

ISDA encourages poultry producers to be aware of the signs of illness in their birds, including: coughing, sneezing, respiratory distress, decreased egg production, swelling of the head, comb and wattles and sudden death. If a producer notices any of these symptoms, they should contact Dr. Bill Barton, ISDA State Veterinarian by calling 208-332-8540.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Idaho Working Lands Coalition Meets

Laird Noh, addresses the meeting, the former state senator and sheep rancher supports the coalition, Putnam photo.

145-Thousand acres of Farm Land Lost to Development since 2003

Boise--Idaho is losing productive farm and rangeland at an alarming rate according to the Idaho Working Lands Coalition, the group is trying to address the problem and met at the Idaho Farm Bureau Building on Wednesday.

The group's goal is to keep working lands working. They say Idaho's working farms, ranches and timberlands offer the way of life, rural character, open space and outdoor recreation that's vital to maintaining Idaho's natural resource heritage. Working together the coalition wants to protect and preserve Idaho's most critical and important working lands. The group would like to see Incentives for landowners that would help ensure that workings lands remain working, and will reward good stewards of the land.

The Idaho Working Lands Coalition includes the Idaho Cattle Association, Idaho Conservation League, Idaho Farm Bureau, Idaho Forest Owners Association, Idaho Grain Producers Association, Idaho Smart Growth, Idaho Sportsmen’s Caucus Advisory Council, Idaho Wildlife Federation, Idaho Wool Growers Association, Intermountain Forest Association, Potlatch Corporation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land and a coalition of Idaho land trusts.

Walt Minnick, Pat Tagasugi Address Canyon County Farm Bureau

Walt Minnick, Pat Tagasugi at Canyon County FB, Russ Hendricks photo.

Candidates Seek the Farm Vote

Caldwell--U.S. Congressional Candidate Walt Minnick and state legislative candidate Pat Takasugi addressed the Canyon County Farm Bureau Board of Directors at their August Board meeting.

Friend of Agriculture Awards

Friend of Agriculture Awards, Russ Hendricks Photo

2008 Friend of Agriculture Awards

Caldwell--Canyon County Farm Bureau President Kathy Alder representing the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation awarded Friend of Agriculture Awards to Representatives Gary Collins (on left) and Bob Schaefer (on right). The awards were presented at the Canyon County FB board meeting in the Caldwell office.

Water meeting

Water meeting, engineer Cynthia Clark and Dave Tuthill talk water storage--Russ Hendricks Photo

Tuthill Talks Water Storage with Idaho Farm Bureau Members

Weiser--IDWR Director Dave Tuthill and IDWR engineer Cynthia Clark spoke to an audience of more than 20 FB members about the need for additional water storage in Idaho and discussed a proposal to build the Galloway Dam near Weiser. The meeting was at the Weiser FB office also in attendance were Speaker of the House Lawrence Denney, Senator Monty Pearce, and Legislative Candidate Judy Boyle.

Rep. Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly, says building a dam on the Weiser River would bring flood control in the Weiser area and would also offset the loss of 480,000 acre-feet Idaho needed for flushing salmon down the Snake River. That could leave more water in Cascade Reservoir for recreation water, improving water quality and irrigation.

Roberts told the Idaho Statesman, "I think one of the wisest things we can do in Idaho is to invest in water."

Meet An Idaho Farmer--Terry Jones, Emmett

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Steve Ritter-Video

MEET AN IDAHO FARMER

Farmers are the unsung heros of Idaho's $13-billion a year Ag industry. Terry Jones runs a dairy operation outside of Emmett, Idaho.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Idaho First to Submit Roadless Rules

Near McCall, Putnam photo

Risch's Roadless Rules Released

Boise –The final environmental impact statement for Idaho's Roadless Plan was released Friday in Boise

"The Idaho Roadless Rule represents the first time a state and its citizens had a direct voice in creating a plan for resolving an issue of national importance," former Idaho Governor Jim Risch told the Capitol Press. Risch launched the plan almost two years ago when Governor Dirk Kempthorne resigned to become Secretary of the Interior.

The State of Idaho submitted the Roadless petition for approval to the Secretary of Agriculture back in October 2006. It was reviewed by the Roadless Area Conservation National Advisory Committee and more than 140,000 people commented on the plan.

The Forest Service gave the following summary of the EIS:

-Wildland recreation areas cover more than 1.4 million acres. Road construction and mineral leasing are prohibited. It applies to areas where there is little evidence of human-caused disturbance. Natural conditions and processes predominate.

-Primitive areas cover 1.7 million acres. Timber cutting is banned, unless done to enhance forest health, habitat for threatened and endangered species, or to protect a community or municipal water systems. Roads are prohibited. Lands designated as primitive areas general retain undeveloped characteristics.

-Special areas of historic and tribal significance cover 48,600 acres. Management will be the same as for primitive areas. These lands general retain undeveloped, unique historic and or tribal characteristics.

-Back-country-Restoration areas include just over 5.3 million acres. Roadless areas will be generally conserved, balanced with the need to protect community and water supply systems from unwanted wildland fire. Community protection zones of 1.5 miles will be designated in which timber cutting will be allowed to reduced hazardous fuels. Temporary roads constructed in a way to minimize surface disturbances will also be allowed. Outside the community protection zones, timber cutting and road construction will be allowed to reduce significant risk of wildland fires to communities or municipal water supply systems, or to enhance habitat for threatened and endangered species, or to restore ecosystem composition and structure. However, road construction is prohibited to access new mineral leases.

-General forest rangeland and grasslands cover 405,900 acres. Permitted activities include timber cutting and road construction when consistent with the applicable forest plan components, and road construction to access specific new mineral leases for phosphate development. No roads will be allowed to access other minerals, but surface use and occupancy will be permitted if allowed in the land management plans.The environmental impact state recognizes 334,500 acres of forest plan special areas, including wild and scenic rivers, research areas and developed areas such as ski areas and campgrounds.

'17 Beet Harvest

The Magic Valley might have the second greatest sugar beet harvest of the decade. “On our farm the beet crop is looking very good,” said...